World's top 10 fun runs with amazing views

1. BAY TO BREAKERS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

The world's first "Fun Run", the Bay to Breakers course takes you in a 12-kilometre (more or less) straight line from its start point near Embarcadero, through the Golden Gate Park to its finish on Ocean Beach. The inaugural race in 1912 was held to celebrate the city's emergence from the gloom of the 1905 earthquake. About 50,000 runners and walkers took part in 2017 in a variety of dress (and undress). Next year's event is on May 20. See baytobreakers.com

2. CITY TO SURF, SYDNEY

The first City to Surf was run in 1971. And 46 years later, it is the biggest annual fun run in the world, attracting up to 80,000 entrants who run/jog/walk/crawl the 14-kilometre course from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. It's an elite race with world-class runners in the starting group (Australian legend Steve Moneghetti still holds the course record). But you'll see all sorts as take you part in the scenic event: guys in gorilla suits, gals dressed as Wonder Woman, couples pushing prams with newborn bubs. Just don't forget the (uphill) "Heartbreak Hill" at the half-way mark! This year's event is on August 13. See city2surf.com.au

3. PARIS VERSAILLES

Bad news. The 40th edition of "La Grande Classique" on September 24, 2017, is already "complet". "Only" 25,000 runners are allowed to run the 16-kilometre route each year. Can't find the start? Fortunately the French have thought of that by putting up a big starting post called the Eiffel Tower. The course takes you south-west to the Palace of Versailles, built by the Sun King, Louis XIV. The good news? They're still taking entrants for the 2018 race. parisversailles.com/site/en/

4. ATHENS CLASSIC MARATHON, GREECE

Other "come lately" city marathons have more runners every year – including London, New York, Paris, Berlin and Boston. But "marathon" takes its name (and supposedly exact distance) from the run the Athenian messenger Pheidippides undertook after the Battle of Marathon, 2500 years ago, to give the good news of victory. His words on collapsing at the finish line? "We have won!" Sadly, they were his last words: he died – a timely reminder you really should do some training before you run a marathon. The present 42kilometre course, held every November, follows the 2004 Olympic marathon route. See athensauthenticmarathon.gr

5. EMPIRE STATE BUILDING RUN-UP, NEW YORK

OK, it's not the longest uphill stair climb any more, but it remains the classic. You need to gather in the foyer on February 7, 2018, checking your timing watch just to blend in. Winners – male or female – will climb 1576 steps (86 floors), in about 10 minutes. Australian Paul Crake set the record (nine minutes 33 seconds) in 2003. See esbnyc.com

6. ITALY COAST TO COAST RELAY, NORTHERN ITALY

A team relay held over four days in June run by a US company which specialises in marathon travel. Ten teams of four runners make their way from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian Sea, covering 90 kilometres a day, keeping mainly to back roads, old railway lines and walking tracks. The focus is on enjoying the landscape and the post-run hotels, meals and camaraderie. The 2018 event is already sold out. See marathontours.com/races/italy-coast-to-coast-relay-400

7. COMRADES MARATHON, SOUTH AFRICA

The oldest ultramarathon in the world, it is run over 89 kilometres between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZula-Natal Province. The first event was on Empire Day, 1921 – the vision of one man, World War I veteran Vic Clapham, who created it to honour comrades who had died in the war. Today, 18,000 runners take part, with the course alternating direction each year ("downhill" is easiest). The 2018 event is on June 10. See comrades.com/

8. GREAT WALL MARATHON, CHINA

Regarded as one of the most challenging races in the world because of the 5000 stone steps, uneven surfaces and constant ups and downs, it is held on a mountainous part of the wall, 125 kilometres north-west of Beijing. First run in 1999, the next race is in May 2018. There's also a half marathon and shorter fun runs. See greatwallmarathon.com.cn/

9. RUN DISNEY WEEKEND, FLORIDA, US

Ever wanted to run a full marathon around Disney World's four theme parks with Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Dopey or Anna from Frozen? Next year's race (January 7, 2018) will be the 25th. Only a cynic would say the marathon weekend – including a half-marathon, 10 kilometre, five kilometre and kids races – is designed to attract extra visitors during the northern winter. See rundisney.com/disneyworld-marathon/

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10. ROUND RAROTONGA ROAD RACE, COOK ISLANDS

Inspired to do a fun run this year, but can't make the City2Surf? There's still time. The 2017 version of the original 31-kilometre "Round Raro Race" is on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Last year was the 40th anniversary, but there's now a week-long running carnival, culminating in what the official website describes as "the totally mad Nutters Cross Island Run". See cookislands.travel/event/round-rarotonga-road-race

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